I’m going to launch straight in with some thoughts about why Winter can be tough as an adult. This is a personal experience and it can be quite hard in different ways for other folks. I got on to reflecting where that contentedness and even positivity about seasonal change came from when I was a child. I do know this: as a child there was certainly, for me, a connectedness to the seasons and the weather and light associated with each. A really strong connection. Part of this can be attributed to the huge amount of time we spent outdoors as children and partly I do know that my primary school years were so rhythmical, repetitive and comforting in the ways in which seasons were…well…just part of our lives. There were the nature tables, the Easter fayres, bonfire nights, Christmas plays, ice slides in the playground, that kind of thing. (Of course half of it today is deemed terribly *dangerous*).
In particular, I remember the autumn and winter light in the classroom at story time. There was always a story at the end of the day for us up to about age 10 or 11. The stories had atmosphere. One such story read to us by our teacher was The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.
The atmosphere for that story was winter. It was dark indeed and a little frightening but it was magical and, at age 9 0r 10, it gave winter a mystical quality that helped with moving on from the Father Christmas myth. To this day, I read to move me mentally in an and out of seasons safely.
Growing up, passing through school in unusually outdoorsy ways, becoming a geography student meant I was still doing ok – plenty of outdoor thinking and working plus a good connection to the natural environment which served me well physically and mentally. My first job as a teacher helped, in some way, to keep connected to the seasonal rhythms and celebrations. Even the playtime supervisions were welcome, giving me a bit of time outdoors. Later, as I changed jobs, long days in an office over autumn and winter were excruciating for me, at times. The lack of natural light, access to rural areas and traveling about a city in the dark left me feeling quite disconnected from the self that knew how to be at peace with the winter dark and cold. The wrongness of clothes that were needed for cold bus stops but didn’t work in hot offices and the office clothing and footwear that didn’t work outdoors on the way home – these things left me feeling all weird about winter.
Another time, there’ll be space for talking about changes I’ve made and changes that have been thrust upon me that have helped me cope with winter since those office days, but this is a first post and it’s getting a bit long and deep. Intended to stop here with 30 seconds of sensory winter preparation. Two nights ago, the kids and I had a fire in the back garden, after school and we took a short video but my incompetence and/or an IT issue has prevented me from uploading that now. Got a photo though – the brazier is an old washing machine drum.
Chris and I have vowed to do more of this fire business.